02:36 - Source: CNN
Clyburn 'very, very moved' by Harris as Vice President-elect
CNN  — 

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Saturday that he had privately urged President-elect Joe Biden to pick a Black woman as his running mate before Biden chose Kamala Harris, America’s first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect.

“Joe and I talked about it several times when he was trying to make his decision,” Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat who’s the highest-ranking African American member of Congress, told CNN’s Dana Bash on Saturday. “He had said it would be a woman. And I don’t mind saying now, I said to him in private that I thought that a lot of the results would turn on whether that woman (would) be a Black woman.”

Clyburn’s comments came hours after CNN projected that Biden will become the 46th president of the United States as a victory in Pennsylvania, the state where he was born, put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. According to exit polls, 91% of Black female voters backed Biden, compared with 8% for President Donald Trump. Exit polls are still being updated as votes come in; these numbers reflect the most recent data.

Clyburn, an influential political figure in South Carolina, endorsed Biden in February before the state’s Democratic primary. Biden surged to a strong victory there, betting everything on the Palmetto State and its diverse, more moderate electorate to revitalize a stalled presidential bid before ultimately going on to win the Democratic nomination.

Clyburn told Bash on Saturday that he did not give that advice publicly at the time so as not to “diminish” Biden. “I gave all my advice to him in private. But I’m very pleased that it was a Black woman selected – I think it cemented his relationship to the Black community.”

“I’m the father of three daughters and I have two granddaughters, and to me this breaks a glass ceiling … for them and all other daughters and granddaughters in the world,” he said. “So I was very, very moved by this.”

Harris’ triumph, in particular, marks a new high point in a career of barrier-breaking accomplishments for her, from San Francisco district attorney to California attorney general to the second-ever Black female US senator. Her mother was an Indian immigrant and her father is Jamaican American.

Harris and Biden’s projected victory arrived after days of vote counting that reflect a deeply divided electorate. It symbolizes a bookend to the Trump era, which followed the first Black US President and was buoyed by social ills including White supremacy.

As CNN’s Abby Phillip pointed out on the air, Trump’s political career began with the racist “birther” lie intended to discredit the first Black president, Barack Obama, and “may very well end with a Black woman in the White House.”

CNN’s Maureen Chowdury, Brandon Tensley, Jasmine Wright, Eric Bradner, Stephen Collinson and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.